LONDON – Staff at London Zoo did on Thursday an annual stock-take of the creatures great and small, feathery and furry, housed within its enclosures.
Some of the larger beasts, such as the zoo’s majestic Sumatran tigers (endangered felines native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra), and its Bactrian camels – the two-humped variation that can be found roaming the steppes of Central Asia – were easy enough to count.
But zookeepers must also keep a tally of the zoo’s more discreet residents, like its collection of magnificent flower beetles, a pair of which happily explored the hand of the worker charged with examining their population.
Other inhabitants needed an incentive for the headcount, such as the Humboldt penguins, which in the wild frequent the Pacific coasts of South America, who were offered fish in exchange for the roll call.
By the end of the task, it was established that there were 35 males, 38 females and 22 juveniles of the flightless – albeit aquatically adept – birds.
The zoo’s squirrel monkeys also had to be convinced to leave their foliage and were tempted out with an abacus smeared with edible treats. One of the monkeys took it upon himself to play with the contraption, perhaps in a bid to help speed up the process.